Walnut Creek: Hometown Charm and Walnut Kings - NBC Bay Area
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Walnut Creek: Hometown Charm and Walnut Kings

The chewy gems are just one sweet element to the weekend affair.



    FOOD MASCOTS: We're all familiar with those spokespeople -- and spokesclowns and spokescats and spokessharks and spokes-you-name-it -- that represent fast food restaurants and large-scale eat-out chains. So familiar that we probably have a toy or two with their visage in some box under some bed. But hometown festivals are known for their symbolic hosts, those people who greet visitors to the party, wave a lot, and in general represent the town as well as a person can. Or, in some cases, as well as a walnut can represent. Walnut Creek's Walnut Festival has a walnut celebrity front and center, and he's no mere face for the posters -- he's the king, complete with a crown and robe, and his reign goes deep back into the festival's 77 year history. Yep, the walnut head has changed a bit over time -- today's Walnut King is a smiler -- but his mission is clear: Represent the venerable festival, which is indeed about a particular nut that goes well in both savory and sweet dishes. The long-running late-summer closer is on again, and the king is in the wings. Be at Heather Farm Park during the Sept. 18-21 weekend for...

    TUNES AND RIDES: There is indeed a carnival atmosphere, which suits the walnut's frequent appearance in fun, celebration-ready foods. (Is it the holidays without some kind of walnutty bread? Nope, it is not.) The city's centennial will also be a festive focus, and there are haps beyond civic doings -- think a car show and lake fishing and parades and community chum-nice doings. ("Chum-nice"=that small town atmosphere that Walnut Creek rocks so well.) Let's also give it up for the fact that the Walnut Festival started as the Grape Festival over a century ago. How is that for roots? May every festival be as long-running, and may every spokeswalnut -- or spokescharacter -- be as charming and where his crown with as much ease.